Programs of Study
The Department offers a program of courses and research leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. The emphasis at Wesleyan is in pure mathematics and theoretical computer science, and most Wesleyan Ph.D. recipients have chosen academic careers upon completion of their studies. In addition to its strengths in traditional areas of mathematics (algebra, analysis and topology), the department has an active research presence in theoretical computer science, logic, and discrete mathematics. Students who do doctoral work in these fields benefit from the interactions between the mathematics and computer science research groups in the department
The Ph.D. degree demands breadth of knowledge, intensive specialization in one field, original contribution to that field, and expository skill. Each student's program of study is reviewed by the department's Graduate Education Committee (GRECO). First-year courses are designed to provide a foundation in the following areas: algebra, analysis, and topology. Written preliminary examinations are normally taken in the summer after the first year. During the second year, the student continues with a variety of courses, sampling areas of possible concentration. The student must obtain a thesis advisor by the end of the second year and pass the special preliminary examination, which is an oral exam managed by the student's advisor and examination committee, by the end of the third year. Also required is the ability to read technical literature in at least two of the following languages: French, German, and Russian. The usual time for completion of all requirements for a Ph.D., including the dissertation, is five years.
After passing the preliminary examinations, most Ph.D. candidates teach one course per year, typically a section of size 20, supervised by senior faculty.
The M.A. degree is designed to ensure basic knowledge and the capacity for sustained scholarly study. The requirements are six semester courses at the graduate level and the writing and oral presentation of a thesis. The Master's thesis requires an independent search and study of the literature, and may be original work.
Students are involved in departmental activities including seminars and colloquia. The small size of the program contributes to an atmosphere of informality and accessibility. There is a tradition of graduate students running their own lunchtime seminar, attended by graduate and undergraduate students .